I've completed three drafts and am currently drafting two more slow drafts. At times, I look at outfield and think the depth affords drafters to wait even in 15-team leagues. Other times, the push for outfielders by only drafters quickly diminishes that attractive depth. Why?
A very good case can be made among hitters, no other position impacts roster construction as more as what an outfield looks like. After all, standard leagues will include five outfield spots. A look at my way-too-late version 1.0 of OF rankings:
I don't think there's anything controversial about the top of the list. Some will prefer Betts to Acuna, Jr., and that's fine because either player is worth the top spot and both are candidates to go 1.1 in drafts.
There's been a lot of discussion about Randy Arozarena, one of the most polarizing players for fantasy analysts to rank. When pitchers, including some of the truly best, adjusted in the playoffs, he still mashed; on the game's biggest stage, the guy was the hottest hitter on the planet. Reports in camp paint him as a guy with no issue of having a huge head or being any different than he was. If the floor is .240 with 20 homers and 15 steals, that's not a terrible situation. And the ceiling...
Wil Myers is a guy I'm higher on than most, but the swing/stance changes were visible in 2020 and the talent showed. Perhaps he loses some at-bats because of his defense and San Diego's depth, but I still think there's 20/20 ability without a hit to batting average.
Victor Robles was one of the most difficult players to rank because he's doing two important things in Spring Training: stealing a lot of bases and leading off. I don't believe he'll hit enough to stick at the leadoff spot if he receives it after Spring Training, but it's not crazy to think he could keep it.
Speaking of hitting leadoff, this ranking believes Ramon Laureano will be that guy at least enough to impact his value.
Projection systems don't believe in Yastrzemski's bat, which I suppose is the result of his age and a late breakout. He was better in '20 after a breakout in '19, has a good lineup spot, and passes the eye test. I think he's an underrated building block attainable when there aren't many of those outfielders left.
I really like the top third or so of this list and think there is some underrated value mostly because of roles - Happ, McCutchen, Brantley, Mountcastle, Santander, Brantley Grossman, Benintendi, and Yastrzemski are all going to hit in great lineup spots. Looking beyond, there are some good roster construction guys, like Schwarber and Upton for power/RBI. Upton is a guy I have a couple of shares of already. He made swing/stance changes late in '20, mashed, and is penciled in to hit behind Fletcher, Trout, Rendon, and Ohtani. That's an excellent spot for RBI.
Awarded the everyday center fielder role in Cincinnati, I'm all-in on Senzel. Steals are tough to chase late in drafts, and I think one of the best times to buy on a post-hype guy - or maybe for him it's post-post-post-hype - is when people aren't buying as much anymore. That said, beware because he is beginning to be pushed way up in drafts.
I know Austin Hays is a very popular late value pick, but the Orioles Spring Training lineups make me wonder if Cedric Mullins is a bigger piece of the puzzle than many anticipate. As for Cristian Pache, he's in a battle for the center fielder spot despite being a better defensive player and better hitter. So, it comes down to whether the Braves want to be cheap or not after starting the guy in the MLB Playoffs last season and him more than holding his own. Pache's competitiveness and maturity in the batter's box really, really impressed me for a guy known for his defense. His lineup spot will probably suck, but there's some speed in the profile with pop.
I want to buy so much of Willie Calhoun, but he's again slowed by an injury. Sigh. Maybe it's just not going to happen.
Like Pache, Naylor looked the part of a future stud in the playoffs with impressive makeup and competitiveness. Once upon a time, he was one of the top prospects in the game because of his bat, and I see an everyday role in Cleveland because Jake Bauers isn't that good and Cleveland needs any outfield offense it can find.
The way the Red Sox paid them and what they've been saying in camp, it's possible, maybe even likely, both Kike Hernandez and Hunter Renfroe eclipse 500 plate appearances easily. If Renfroe hits that mark, he exceeds 30 homers; meanwhile, Hernandez has never been given close to a full-time role, which could unlock some better batting average.
If Austin Slater ever gets an everyday role, he could win some leagues. He has potential in the two most valuable areas - speed and batting average.
I feel like I'm kind of buying Tyler O'Neill. He's coming off an. 189 BABIP and was on a pace for 25 homers and 10 steals. The Cardinals seem committed to giving him everyday at-bats.
The Royals already optioned Edward Olivares back to AAA and look committed to roll with Michael A. Taylor. Long ago, Taylor was like Senzel - tools over production and just couldn't quite break through for a variety of reasons. The talent is still there and he'll swipe some bags.
Jo Adell looks noticeably different, in a good way, in the batter's box with a more fluid, athletic swing. But with Dexter Fowler, a Joe Maddon favorite, incoming, Adell seems destined for more AAA time. Frankly, that's not a bad thing. He was overmatched last year. But just know if/when he does get a role again, he's going to hit better.
We're in the deep, deep range now with a lot of prospects without roles and old guys without a team or stuck in a platoon. I will say this: Jarren Duran is a future star in Boston, and could be in the starting outfield sooner than later. He was outstanding during the winter and has looked good in Spring Training.
Meh. I felt like 150 was a good, round number.